I have a feeling that King Nebuchadnezzar had grown weary of the multiple deities of his religion. The idols to which he prayed neither answered his prayers nor demonstrated any real power. The sorcerers and astrologers who counseled the king were supposed to be able to tap into the spiritual realm, but the king did not trust them. He was suspicious that they might be as unaware of spiritual things as he was. At that very time, the one true God had arranged for a young man to meet Nebuchadnezzar — a man who knew God personally and could introduce the king to Him. That man was Daniel.
In order to set up this important meeting between the most powerful ruler in the world and an exiled Jewish teenager, God gave Nebuchadnezzar a bizarre nightmare. The king awoke the next morning with an attitude. He demanded that his sorcerers and astrologers tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but the content of the dream itself. If they could not do it, the king decided that he would execute every one of them. The clueless “holy” men stalled for time, knowing that what the king asked was impossible.
The Babylonians did not know what to do with Daniel and his three friends. Since God had blessed them with uncommon wisdom and spiritual insight, they were placed in the same group with the sorcerers and astrologers. That meant Daniel and his friends stood to die if the dream could not be interpreted! Daniel called a prayer meeting. Along with Azariah, Mishael, and Hananiah, he prayed for God to reveal the dream and its meaning. That night God answered the prayer in “a vision of the night” (v.19), and Daniel rushed to tell the king.
Daniel did not waste the opportunity to give glory to his God. In verses 27-28 he made sure the king knew that the one true God could do what none of his false gods and their representatives could do. And Daniel made it clear that he was not wiser than them — he just knew the real God (v.30).
The dream of the statue (v.31-45) signified the three world powers that would dominate history after the Babylonian Empire faded from the scene. It showed that Daniel’s God was sovereign over all human authorities. He is the one who “removes kings and sets up kings”, the one who determines the histories of nations and the rise and fall of empires (v.21). The silver chest and arms probably represent the Medo-Persian Empire, the bronze belly and thighs probably represent Greece under the rule of Alexander the Great, and the iron-laced clay feet probably represent the Roman Empire. The rock that smashed the feet and became a great mountain (v.35) is the Kingdom of God, ruled by King Jesus forever. God’s Kingdom, the present earthly identity of which is the church, is indestructible. I can’t help but think that Jesus had this passage in mind when He made the great pronouncement in Matthew 16:18, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Nebuchadnezzar honored Daniel and promoted him and his three friends. More importantly, he acknowledged, “Your God is God of gods and Lord of kings” (v.47). And just think, that God loves you and is concerned about the details of your life! He is in control of the times and seasons of your life, and all that He does (and allows) is for your good and His glory! Worship Him with all your heart today!